Monday, March 15, 2004


War protesters marched more than five miles yesterday to the White House from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where many wounded soldiers are treated, urging President Bush to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.

Carrying memorial wreaths, more than 100 demonstrators read names of hundreds of war victims printed on slips of paper, which they then placed in a mock coffin.

“The administration needs to start telling the truth, stop hiding the toll and bring them home now,” said Gordon Clark, 43, of Silver Spring, coordinator of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, which organized the protest with Military Families Speak Out. “No one should be dying on a false case for war.”

The demonstration was part of a two-day rally that began Sunday in Dover, Del., to mark this week’s one-year anniversary of the war. Participating were veterans and members of families who have lost loved ones, with many of them wearing signs that read, “Mourn the Dead, End the War.”

Some of the protesters criticized Mr. Bush for declining to attend any of the funerals for the dead and, continuing the practice of previous administrations, not allowing the public or media to witness the arrival of remains.

Jean Prewitt, 53, of Birmingham, Ala., mourned the loss of her 24-year-old son Kelley, during fighting south of Baghdad last April. A former supporter of Mr. Bush, Mrs. Prewitt said she refuses to vote for him now after he waged a war based on reputed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that have yet to be found.

“My son died in vain, and I’m frustrated and mad,” Mrs. Prewitt said at the demonstration outside the White House.

“I believed our president, but he didn’t come clean. He never attended a funeral of a slain soldier and he won’t even show remorse.”

On Sunday, about 250 activists marched in Dover carrying signs that read “Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home.”

They stood outside Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, home to the nation’s largest military mortuary, where the bodies of more than 550 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq have been processed and prepared for return to their families.

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